“Does Don Day know about DITA?” That’s a skills endorsement question that is likely to pop up if you visit my profile page at the business-oriented social service, LinkedIn. Beyond that quixotic thought, consider the more important question: “What does Don Day think about DITA?” In fact, what I can tell you about DITA may help you understand this XML markup standard in a much different way than you may have expected. (more…)
The link element
“It’s 10 P.M.. Do you know where your children are?” This public service announcement has rung out on American airwaves since the late 1960s, reminding parents of their accountability for childrens’ whereabouts. Likewise, DITA’s link element helps keep track of child and peer topic relationships in the neighborhood where you are reading. Sort of like the Den Mother checking off each boy’s name at the weekly Cub Scout meetings I used to attend (which all of us present responded to by saying, ever so cleverly, “President!”). (more…)
The related-links element
If three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water, why is it still so easy for me to lose things in that correspondingly smaller amount of land? It seems like I’m always looking for misplaced things. If all those lost things just had a proper storage place, and I knew where that was, it would be so much easier to account for all my gear–especially missing car keys! (more…)
The abstract element
Do you recall what critter is known as “a horse designed by a committee?” That’s right, the abstract element! (more…)
The shortdesc element
How would you complete this simile? A topic needs a shortdesc like:
- A conference-goer needed her business cards.
- A man needs to ask for directions.
- A link needs a hover tip to explain what it leads to.
- A fish needs a bicycle. (more…)
The body element
To what can we compare the body element in DITA? It’s not fluff, as in “hair with body.” There’s no inertia as in Newton’s First Law of Motion, “a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” There’s no official entity as in a corporate body. But it is a collection of information, as in “a body of evidence.” And that thought image leads to some interesting explorations. (more…)
The searchtitle element
You know the feeling: after a busy afternoon of researching and bookmarking the documentation for a product you just bought, you go back to look for the particular link you logged about installing on weekends. But all the bookmark titles just say “Installing FooFram” with no other clue about that weekend issue. Whoever wrote those chapters needed searchtitle for the web version of that document! (more…)
The navtitle element
A navtitle, in DITAspeak, is a shorter version of a longer, actual topic title that can be displayed in navigation menus or other contexts where a more succinct version is preferred. In fact, any application that publishes adaptive content can make use of this version of the title in place of the main title for summary views of the topic such as in a sidebar blurb or for progressive disclosure in a responsive theme. (more…)